Starbucks plans to stop bottling water to help California drought

Starbucks plans to stop bottling water to help California drought

Starbucks’ Ethos water is known for its mission to contribute a portion of the proceeds to the Ethos Water Fund. As of recently, the ethical reputation of the brand has come under question.


According to a report from Mother Jones, Starbucks has made over an estimated $400 million from Ethos water bottle sales. For each bottle sold, five cents is collected and donated to the fund under the Starbucks corporation.


The ethical dilemma is that while Starbucks has been looking to solve water crises around the world through the sale of Ethos water, it has been simultaneously exacerbating another crisis: the California drought.


This is because the bottling plant that Starbucks has been using water from one of the areas that has been most dramatically affected by the ongoing drought, Merced, California.


Ethos water bottle on top of a coffee table.

Starbucks plans to alter where West Coast Ethos bottles are produced to prevent water waste in wake of California drought. (

Last Thursday, Starbucks announced that it would temporarily cease production in California to comply with company values and dismiss public backlash.  It will instead relocate bottling operations to its Pennsylvania plant until an alternate production site is identified on the West Coast.


Speaking on the decision, Starbucks’ Senior Vice President of Global Responsibility and Public Policy, John Kelly, stated: “We are committed to our mission to be a globally responsible company and to support the people of the state of California as they face this unprecedented drought.”


This quick action was a smart move for the company, but why did they wait to be under pressure to make this change?


A company’s global responsibility means that the company must constantly remain aware of the social, economic, political, and environmental impacts of its actions and decisions. From there, it is essential for initiative to be taken when these situations.


Starbucks’ decision to shift production to Pennsylvania under pressure is a simple, temporary solution, but clearly not one they considered early on in the California drought.  Shifting production sites is not an easy task but global responsibility should be characterized by responsible actions, not easy ones.


Do you think Starbucks’ decision to relocate production of Ethos water only following heightened public pressure reflects more positively or negatively on the company and its commitment to global responsibility? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi

Tamara Rahoumi

Tamara Rahoumi is a third-culture kid of Egyptian descent who was born and raised in New Jersey. She loves experiencing new things, and is in a constant state of wanderlust. She has spent a year studying in Switzerland and another teaching in Albania. Tamara graduated from Rutgers University, where she studied political science and cultural anthropology. She reports on a variety of stories for MUIPR. Follow Tamara on twitter @tamarahoumi.

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